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Sprints

Learn about past sprints and how we’ve tackled national challenges.

Sprints are 12-week product development cycles that bring together tech teams and collaborators to build public-facing digital products using open data.

Built Environment

A small, 5-pointed yellow star 2020

Our human-made environments require support and sustainment to ensure their longevity and inclusivity. Tech teams including Emsi, Center on Rural Innovation, Julius Education and others developed digital products aimed at improving the country’s built environment. These included tools to connect low income families with resources to equip and empower them toward self-sufficiency; assistance for rural communities in implementing and evaluating solutions to economic, environmental, and human health challenges; products to connect recently resettled refugees with resources and services; and tools that track federal disaster response spending.

Problem Statement

Economic Self-Sufficiency for Low-Income Families

Challenge:

Create digital collaboration platforms that enable low income families to holistically assess their needs and connect with the best federal, state and local programs to equip and empower them toward self-sufficiency and economic mobility.

Why This Problem is Important:

Approximately 30 departments and agencies across the federal government offer over 200 federal programs that could assist low income families in their journeys towards self-sufficiency. There are also innumerable private programs intended to achieve the same end. However, the sheer number of programs and the lack of integration and accessibility create unnecessary barriers for families to find, connect with, and utilize the services that best suit their particular needs. Heads of households also lack a way to assess their own strengths and weaknesses, to set goals, create a roadmap, and engage with community partners to accelerate their journey into economic mobility. Through its EnVision Center initiative, HUD designated brick and mortar facilities to serve as centralized hubs to support low-income households seeking to achieve self-sufficiency. While the centers are effective, their reach is limited to their local areas.

Agency

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

Target Audience

Low to moderate income heads of households; case managers; guidance counselors; life coaches; community and ministry leaders; service providers; philanthropic organizations; federal, state and local government service program managers, policy makers, legislators.

Problem Statement

Facilitating Sustainable Rural Economic Development

Challenge:

Create digital tools that help rural communities access and use data to implement solutions to economic, environmental, and human health challenges, taking care to reach places that have limited professional capacity and small budgets.

Why This Problem is Important:

Rural economies must maintain a fine balance between economic competitiveness and agricultural and natural land conservation, as well as between maintaining existing roads, sewers, and buildings and funding for services needed to help residents maintain a good quality of life. In particular, rural communities located close to metropolitan areas or amenities (e.g., ski areas, national parks) may struggle to preserve their rural character in the face of growth pressures, as they experience conversion of farmland and natural land to development. Rural communities can achieve their goals for growth and development while maintaining their distinctive rural character by encouraging growth in town, where businesses can thrive on a walkable main street and families can live close to their daily destinations, protect rural landscapes, improve air and water quality, provide places for recreation, and create tourist attractions that bring investments into the local economy.

Agency

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Target Audience

Local officials or other local decision makers; regional planning groups; rural or tribal communities; communities that have been impacted by recent pandemic outfall, loss of key industry, and/or extreme weather events are suggested.

Problem Statement

Tracking Impact of Disaster and Emergency Funding

Challenge:

Create digital tools and resources to track federal financial assistance award spending starting from Federal awards and flowing down to state and/or local spend in response to one or more emergencies and disasters (e.g., COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic, hurricanes, earthquakes, and other disasters)

Why This Problem is Important:

The federal government is a key provider of funding in times of crisis. Tracking how Federal spend and programs are filtered down and implemented at the working level can enhance data transparency, promote more effective emergency and disaster relief, and improve services to the American public. A greater understanding of how funds are dispersed and broken down can help decision-makers at all levels and across organizations better understand program effectiveness and aid in making more informed decisions about use of funds. Furthermore, more transparent access to such tracking is important to keep the federal government accountable for making the best intended use of these funds in the future, as well to illustrate where gaps may exist and signify highest priorities for future emergency funding. Lastly, better tracking of federal funding flows would improve the ability of the public and decision-makers at all levels to learn how these dollars and resulting programs affect local communities.

Agency

Office of Management and Budget

Target Audience

American public, researchers, engaged citizens, state/local communities, rural or tribal communities, grant/loan recipients, small businesses, managers of disaster funds, appropriators

Problem Statement

Assisting Recently Resettled Refugees

Challenge:

Create a tool that connects resettled refugees with resources and vital services, such as access to medical care and mental health treatment, English language learning, job training, education, etc. These resources might be available through government agencies, nonprofits, community based organizations, private sector actors and the like.

Why This Problem is Important:

In the last five years, more than 250,000 refugees have been resettled in the United States. Refugees are provided assistance by one of the nine resettlement agencies for 90 days, after which they are responsible for navigating their path to self-sufficiency and integration into American society, but often lacking the language skills necessary. There are many organizations that provide assistance after the resettlement agencies, but many refugees may not be familiar with these services or unsure of how to ask for help. By designing a solution to connect resettled refugees to nonprofits and community-based organizations, the following outcomes may be achieved: (1) refugees will have increased familiarity of local services; (2) refugees can select services holistically (education, mental health, jobs, etc.); (3) refugee can be empowered to successfully resettle (4) refugees can have their specific needs met versus a one-size fits all approach.

Agency

USA for United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

Target Audience

Resettled refugees in the United States, nonprofits that provide help to refugees